Instead, we got more of the old – blame the other for the problem; and worse accusations about who is sabotaging the country and who caused the recent surge in cases and deaths. With very few exceptions the contributions of Members of Parliament on both the PNM and UNC sides were degenerate and deplorable. Sadly, but not surprisingly, these so called leaders have aggravated the deep divisions in our society and, in particular, divisions along party, race and geographical lines.
The Prime Minister’s outburst about vigils for the late Andrea Bharatt was not only in extremely poor taste but it lacked any basis in fact. Those vigils were held when the Covid 19 Health Regulations restricted the number of people gathering. At no time was there any attempt to enforce the regulations, nor were there warnings from the Government that these vigils could cause a spike in cases and should not be held. Whether or not they were funded or organised by the UNC is not the point. All the PM’s statement has done is to exacerbate the divisions in society and will result in growing racial tensions – as the social media posts on both sides will amplify the comments many times over.
On the other hand, the UNC has put many a foot wrong in their responses to the Covid pandemic so they have little moral authority to criticise or condemn the PNM. We need not cite all of these here as they are well known to all but the die-hard UNC supporters.
Yesterday’s debate in the Parliament presented the opportunity for the leaders of both parties to put all the previous nasty partisan politics behind them and focus on the well being of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago. They could not do so. It has been said by many that the pandemic has exposed for all to see the real problems that we face: an economy that is in need of fundamental transformation; a society that is deeply fragmented and in which there is great inequality of income, wealth and opportunity and where serious problems exists such as gender based violence; and where our national institutions are, if not broken, in need of significant fixing. Tens of thousands of people are in pain and they needed to hear a unified message of hope for the future. That did not happen.
Yesterday, however, showed us that the most important problem – the problem that has to be fixed before we can even hope to successfully address all the others – is that of leadership. That great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr., once stated that “genuine leaders have the ability to articulate, initiate, and follow through on their vision”. There were no genuine leaders on display yesterday. It seems that their only vision is to win elections by any means necessary including dividing the country so badly that no government will ever have any legitimacy and so will never be able to unite the country or build the nation. That Trumpian type of politics will lead us to certain destruction where the “winner” of the elections and the spoils of political office will rule in the ashes.
Movement for Social Justice